There is no doubt just how much modern society relies on mobile apps. The global app market has become a financial powerhouse generating $462bn worldwide revenue in 2019 according to Statista. Which lends some reason as to why everyone wants to make the next big app. But not everyone is a mobile developer and not all companies have mobile teams at the ready. This demand created an opportunity for outsourcing app development.
Different types of outsourcing
Outsourcing isn’t anything new, it goes on in every industry. However, when talking about the software industry the general assumption is that when people imagine outsourcing app development, they probably imagine a software farm in the Far East. While this is definitely a popular option, outsourcing can take various forms:
- Offshore software development: This is a popular option since there are a lot of countries with a lot of supply and not enough demand. The driving factor behind this option is the cost. However, this could cause compromises in other areas like quality, market fit, and communication.
- Freelancers: Working independently, freelancers cover a very wide range of skills. They work great for smaller specific tasks instead of heading up big projects. Freelancers are also usually cost-effective, but since they work independently there are a lot of risks involved and could disappear at any given time.
- Software agencies and firms: Although expensive, this is the quality option when outsourcing whether local or offshore. Dedicated companies with expertise on their side and a reputation that precedes them. They will be familiar with the industry and be able to handle a full project from start to finish.
Is outsourcing app development the new future?
Advantages of outsourcing development
Outsourcing exists for a reason and there are definitely benefits to outsourcing and situations where you might want to consider it. Let’s talk about the benefits first:
- Saving money: Obviously this is the main drive behind anything and everything most companies do. There is a very clear appeal to wanting to cut costs when moving into the mobile app market. And having a lot of options to pick from when it comes to outsourcing can save a lot of money instead of having to hire a mobile team and invest. The price of outsourcing varies greatly depending on where the agency/freelancer is located. Outsourcing app development to Asia/India or Eastern Europe can save money compared to hiring a developer in-house in North America.
- Focusing on different aspects: A lot of companies can’t handle a ton of big projects and initiatives running simultaneously. Taking the development of the mobile app off your hands to focus on other matters more important to the company is very useful.
- Reducing risk: Depending on what kind of outsourcing you go with, hiring an outside firm can greatly reduce the risk of something going wrong. And if something does go wrong it’s much easier to handle than if the problem existed internally.
- Hiring specialist talent: Hiring the best ready-made talent can make a difference if your company has no experience when developing an app. This can help a lot with app complexity. If an app needs specialist skills that wouldn't be feasible to hire in-house they will most likely be available to hire outsourced.
- Rush to market: Another key thing companies look for other than cost is speed. Sometimes an app idea needs to get to market as fast as possible to beat out the competition.
Disadvantages of outsourcing development
Now the issues and hidden costs of outsourcing your mobile app:
- Compromising the SDLC: There are a lot of decisions to be taken when outsourcing development. Are you outsourcing only the development part? If so, who does the research and planning phases? The entire app development life cycle can be outsourced but this could result in a loss of control over what is being made and increases risk.
- Communication: A huge part of getting the desired result is being able to communicate what your vision for the app is and having a constant feedback channel to stay on top of the development. This can cause a lot of issues, especially when working with an overseas partner.
- Continuous support: App updates are an essential part of an app’s success. Our own research shows that the top apps update their apps on average once a week. This continuous process means outsourcing will be a huge issue if it is a one-off thing.
- Security risks: By nature of the method, moving any work to a third-party always has an associated security risk involved.
- Unexpected issues: This can be anything from hidden costs to having your freelancer disappear on you.
The argument for in-house development
Advantages of in-house development
When considering outsourcing your app development the obvious alternative choice is developing in-house. For many companies that don’t have an existing mobile team, this means that there is a recruiting process involved. Also, similarly to any project undertaken, it will require resources and dedication from the company, which might not always be easy to do. There are still a lot of benefits to having app development in-house, so let’s take a look at some of them:
- Easy coordination: The main and obvious benefit is having everything under one roof. This eliminates a lot of issues that arise from outsourcing, such as gaps in communication.
- Conveying company ethos: Apps are consumer-facing products and having their development done in-house means that a company can instill its values in it. Business needs are also better manifested in the product because the company is on the same page.
- Resource management: Everything from time to money spent is a resource and a company can dynamically manage the resources needed by the development team. This can help mitigate costs and save time when possible.
- Ensure a quality product: Having the full SDLC under the company supervision will help ensure the desired outcome is achieved. This is helped by testing with the relevant users and making the most out of product research.
- Investing in the future: Building an app with a new mobile team won’t be a one a done project. As mentioned before, constantly updating, improving, and adapting a mobile app is necessary for its success. Any investment in the project will still be useful beyond the initial app development.
Disadvantages of in-house development
There are still issues when it comes to in-house development. Let’s take a look at some of the shortcomings:
- Hiring the right expertise: To get all the benefits out of in-house development the mobile team needs to know what they’re doing. And since not every company has a mobile team at the ready, hiring the right people with the right expertise is a challenge.
- Time: Building a team and getting them integrated into the company can be very time consuming when that time can be used in development.
- Cost: Equipping a mobile team with everything needed to build an app as well as getting the best talent can be very costly. Opting for training talent has the cost of buying the needed licenses and certifications as well as needing more time.
What is right for you?
Now that we’ve seen the benefits and issues with both in-house app development and outsourcing it’s important to figure out what is best for you. There are a lot of cases where outsourcing will in fact be the best way to go and it’s important to pay attention to the potential pitfalls. The same goes for in-house app development, with the large investment required it's important to make sure the desired quality can be achieved.
App users will always be able to pick out issues and general lack of quality in apps. And nothing is easier than leaving a 1-star rating and a bad review. Brand names won’t cover up a rushed and bad product, but the reverse can be true.
Investing and taking the time to produce the best app with your vision will go a long way to converting users. Effectively communicating business needs and not compromising in quality and resources will help achieve that. Figuring out which method to go about it and consider all the costs and benefits to each will go a long way to getting the best version of an out there.